Loomis, J., Kent, P., Strange, L., Fausch, K., & Covich, A. (1999, September 23). Measuring the total economic value of restoring ecosystem services in an impaired river basin: results from a contingent valuation survey. Ecological Economics,33, 103-117.





In this study, researchers decipher the value and willingness to pay for increased ecosystem services in the South Platte river in Colorado. The ecosystem services analyzed were: dilution of wastewater, natural purification of water, erosion control, habitat for fish and wildlife, and recreation. To increase these services, researchers proposed a hypothetical establishment of 300,000 acres of conservation land along the river in addition to restoring natural vegetation along river banks and a 33% decrease in water diversion for agriculture. The cost of these operations would be incurred by consumers in the form of a higher water bill. On average, it was found that consumers were willing to pay roughly $21 more per month or $252 annually for these increased services. $12.3 million would be required to fund restoration projects and consumers increased payments would amount to $18.54 million in income to pay for them. This would yield a $6.24 million annual surplus which could be used to fund revegetation along the riverside. In addition, it is estimated farmers could make as much, if not much more, money by selling a portion of their water back to the river than if they used it for agricultural activities.